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The Neural Reprogramming Game

I've use this little technique more often and more successfully than any other. It's not as powerful as the Amygdala Retraining technique but it's easier and for me it's more consistent.

The neuro- reprogramming technique came to me while I was reading a book by Norman Doidge called "The Brain That Changes Itself". It describes the sometimes amazing effects mind training techniques can have on stroke and other patients. People who have injuries to one part of brain - such as stroke patients - can train other parts of the brain to take over those functions. It turns out that the brain is very malleable; virtually any part of it can take over an entirely new function if it needs to.

So my question was if one part of the brain in CFS is damaged can you actually train another part of the brain to take over the damaged areas functioning? An alternate question is if one part of the brain is overactive - which is what I believe is happening to me - could I turn its activity down and correspondingly turn the activity of another (better) part of the brain up.

What also struck me were passages describing scientific studies which indicate that changing your "behavior" causes changes in your brain. For instance anytime you take up a new skill the areas in your brain devoted to that new skill will start to grow. If you took up pottery, say, the neurons in your brain devoted to touch would grow tremendously.

I've long like I was kind of stuck in this anxious, unable to calm down, over activated mode. I wondered if I could neurally 'grow myself' out of ME/CFS by consciously activating other parts of my brain and establishing new neural connections just as the stroke patients did? The key to do that is obviously activating other parts of the brain.

How to do that? (A) First by recognizing those patterns - those same old body sensations and patterns of thought and then invoking the possibility of 'neural reprogramming'. (I actually say to myself 'neural reprogramming'). It simply involves settling down and doing something different - putting one's attention elsewhere hopefully building a connection to a different part of the brain.

For instance, by brushing the back of your hand across a table - you light a different part of your brain. If you do that enough you establish a strong connection to that part of your brain. The idea is simply to light up different parts of the brain than are currently being light up by paying attention to new and different parts of the environment.

I started out simply paying attention to things I usually don't pay attention to like the fine sense of touch, the sounds around me and and objects I'd ordinarily never look at. That would usually instantly leave me more relaxed - allowing me to step outside of ME/CFS (to some extent) briefly.

I've done it enough that now when I invoke the idea of neural reprogramming its associated with a new mode of being; my breathing and heart rate slow down, my body straightens up and my energy increases: I step outside of ME/CFS a bit simply by invoking the process. I can sense when my body is beginning to get caught in those old patterns and often find a way to slide at least somewhat out of them.

These are like alot of little wins -temporary and usually small wins that I can't but think can be very helpful over time. Every time I feel a bit healthier I win!

This technique is not as strong as the AR but its easier. Its just one of several mindfulness techniques I use daily ;)


I read Doidge's book too and it got me thinking the same type of questions.

The brain is a great thing when it works right. Not so great when it doesn't. But I've been learning that it has its own troubleshooting properties to if we can just learn how to access them.

Encouraging stuff.

Sounds like you've been able to make some headway along those lines. That's excellent.

This whole brain-changing-itself is a huge subject with enormous scope, I think.

I will try to do some thinking on it and try to remember some of the things I have come to myself, on the subject.
Very interesting post, Cort! I read this book as well (or listened to the audio version) and it got me thinking along the same lines.
I think it makes sense! I feel like my brain is locked into this little shell - it needs to increase its reach- those neuron's must expand and grow. I particularly want them to grow into that area of my brain that registers pure bliss :).

I really wonder about movement - why movement is so difficult. I really think that fine motor movements have been lost; that I engage far too many muscles to achieve even simply activities. I wonder if movement can be retaught or relearned - by moving VERY SLOWLY in an new manner. I just read that slow movement engages the brain. Of course I've felt since the beginning that my movements, in general, has sped up.
I haven't read the book... Just want to say that I believe the brain can be retrained with our activities and our environment.
Years ago I took dance lessons. It took six months for my brain to connect to my feet, but once they did improvements began. I lost a lot of my imbalance and my shakiness. I slept better, and felt happy. Even though the dance lessons, or an evening of dancing left me in tears from the pain of it, I was almost euphoric from the good music, friends, socializing and exercise. It even loosened up some muscles as well as a good PT session. I could feel my body getting stronger.
I could almost feel the brain cells multiplying...
I have read this book too and it really spurred me on to thinking I could get well. I was very interested with the fact he was able to cure the people with OCD. He used a similar approach to Gupta....an NLP approach when they wanted to be compulsive he taught them to see themselves in a happy environment or some such thing....changing the thought process immediately. He did the PET scan before and after and it showed the difference.....that is magic.
I've never heard of the 'paying attention to your environment' mindfulness technique explained in that way- that it involves neural reprogramming.
I've always heard it explained as fixing your consciousness in the present reality which is comforting, grounding and makes the feeling of being overwhelmed go away. This explanation always made sense to me. Interesting to see it explained in a different way.
"I really wonder about movement - why movement is so difficult. I really think that fine motor movements have been lost; that I engage far too many muscles to achieve even simply activities."

Maybe its just me. I've noticed over time that I seem to put much too much physical effort into even small physical tasks like brushing my teeth, cleaning the dishes - everything really. My toothbrushes last about one week before they are flat.

I need to chop logs for our woodburner. I manage fine until I come to a tough log and then struggle with it until I can literally feel the energy disappearing and I have a crash coming on. I've noticed here also that if I relax at this stage and attack it less intensively, I can usually avoid the crash.

I'm not sayin that reprogramming can fix all of our problems, physical or not, thats getting into CBT territory. But mindfulness techniques, I believe, have alot of value in avoiding the peaks and troughs. Regardless of the underlying pathology, a more relaxed grounded lifestyle has got to be better long term.
It's not just you...that has been a key part of my illness. Its like I engage my entire body to do the slightest tasks. And it seems to come from the core; my muscles throughout my body seem rock solid. I know that I rarely take deep slow nourishing breaths. Think of how exhausting this must be for our systems. This must be one reason why when we're given really physical tasks we're depleted so quickly.

This was very noticeable for me because before I got ME/CFS I was very much at home in my body. I really enjoyed it...I enjoyed its grace and I enjoyed moving and I enjoyed exercising. I was so confounded at how things could change so much!

It is possible, I believe, to slowly regain the sense of fine movement and relaxation and, more at less, at easeness with out bodies. For me its step by step by moment by moment - doing what you're doing - relaxing my body, and introducing fine 'little' movements in it.

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